Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kids' Toy Closet Decluttered

This blog is inspired by Simple Mom. So thanks!

We have a closet in a small room that will hopefully by the end of the year (fingers crossed!) be a nursery for our first child. In the meantime, it hosts a ton of toys, games, and bedding for the twin bed in that room. My husband and I are a bit childish (I prefer the terms awesome and retro, actually) and have kept a lot of toys from when we were young (legos, pogs, micro-machines, you name it!), and love board games. Lucky for us, we have 2 nephews that visit and the toys aren't just collecting dust!

Here are the before pictures:

 As you can is a disaster. When my nephews come over. Everything is just pulled out and a mess is made. That's okay though, since we are a cool Aunt and Uncle that won't make a fuss about such things. But alas, it is sad to look when they leave. There is just too much stuff in there. I usually am afraid to open it for fear of being crushed by a TOY AVALANCHE. (Seriously! It has happened before!)

Especially with this pile of games. We love board games, but this is crazy. The most used ones are hard to get at and all the card games are thrown up there too.

Yeah, I don't even know where to start here. There are sheets for the bed, a railing, tons of stuffed animals and other toys. You can't see it, but there is even a toy wheelbarrow in there! Good thing, too, because I have a feeling I am going to need it! 

Let's just move on to the after pictures! These are too embarrassing. 

Here is the top shelf of board games. The lesser used ones are on the bottom, and there are 3 piles that are easier to manage. Also, all the card games are gone. 

I bet you don't even recognize this space! All the cars and plastic toys are in the bottom tote. The top tote is only stuffed animals. I found a shelving unit in the basement (who knew!) and adjusted the shelves so that the wheelbarrow and other big toys can fit underneath. There is a shelf for sheets, making them much easier to find. I got 2 canvas totes from the Dollar Tree. They have little toys and books in one and the other houses all those card games. 

With only $2.10 and some re-purposed shelves, I am much happier with this toy area! Hopefully it will stay looking this nice! One can only hope, right? 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ladies Slumber Party

This may have you time-traveling back to being 12 years old. When you invited a bunch of friends over, and you stayed up all night eating pizza, singing along to Hanson (okay, maybe this was just me), and playing M.A.S.H. and "Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board." You probably remember a lot of drama as the night wore on and you all became snippy with each other.
My husband and I each are incredibly lucky to each have a small group of really awesome friends. His live in Italy and mine are spread out all over the state. I am definitely long over-do for some quality "girl time." Thus, the sleepover.
I tried googling adult sleepover ideas, but honestly, there just isn't a big market on this. Unless, like many of the hits I got, you are looking for sex games and menu items that are either an aphrodisiac or you can lick off of your significant other. Well, that's not really the kind of party I had in mind (although I will definitely store some away for a special date night with my husband. Wink, wink!)
As for the Adult Girls Slumber are my ideas!

1. Invitations: Send out invitations about 4 weeks out. I get so much junk in the mail (and bills!), I know I would appreciate a pretty card inviting me a party. It's just not done much anymore and I think it's a nice touch that should be brought back. I Facebook messaged all the ladies first to pick a date though. :) Then I brought pretty invites for only $3.99 from Target and hand-wrote each one while watching an episode of Bones.
 Tip: I made RSVPing super easy by having everyone just post on my Facebook wall. I made them post their favorite snack, beverage, and color if they were attending. This made picking out those things even easier. Now I am sure that everyone will have at least one of their favorite things at the party.

 2. Sleeping Arrangements: While sleeping in the floor in a sleeping bag was cute when you were 12, not so much now. Also, I have hardwood floors, so that’s not even an option! I made sure I had enough sheets and blankets for the guest room, the futon in the office, the sleeper sofa, and the air mattress. I was also willing to give up my own bed for one of the less comfortable sleeping places if necessary. They don’t need to be hotel style accommodations. Everyone doesn’t need their own room either, but they do need to be somewhat comfortable.
Tip: If you are short on blankets/pillows/air mattresses or whatever, don’t be afraid to ask your friends to bring their own or ask if your family or friends have any you can borrow. There is no need to rush out and buy new items.
3. Décor: My party is in February in Wisconsin. So needless to say, it is really cold. Thus I am going for a somewhat tropical theme. I am not really doing much in way of decorating, but I will have tropical napkins and snack plates as well as fun straws and glasses for tropical beverages. If I have some left over money, I may get some flowers as a centerpiece; but most likely I will just opt for a pretty bowl with pineapple and other fruit in it. It will double as a snack or as breakfast the next morning!
Tip: For me, unless it’s a holiday, décor should be at a minimum. People usually don’t care that much and it’s an easy way to save on money. Use things you already have around the house: tropical candles, fresh fruit, and décor from a previous party. See if you have items in other rooms of the house you can move around and use for this purpose. My goal: minimal and understated! 

4. Menu: There are a lot of interesting food issues to work around in my group including 1 vegetarian, 1 will only eat poultry person, and 1 gluten intolerant person. I am a planner, so I made several items ahead of time, like mini caprese skewers for an appetizer! Yummy and so so easy. Other apps included fresh guacamole and chips, and ants on a log (a special request from one of my friends). I tried to make most food items at least *somewhat* healthy. 

Mini Caprese Skewers:

Cherry Tomatoes
Cherry Size mozzarella balls
Fresh Basil

Put on a toothpick, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Done!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Italian Vacation

I just returned from Italy with my husband on Sunday. For those who don't know, my husband is Italian, born and raised. Thus the point of our trip was to visit family and friends for the most part. Italians, I am told, do not invite someone over for a drink. They invite someone over for a meal. We spent the majority of our trip "house hopping" and enjoying a lot of lovely food, wine, and company. In 9 days, I gained 4 pounds and it was worth it!

Our primary hosts, were a wonderful family (that lucky for me, spoke English!) I absolutely adored their kitchen! Although, you'll probably be surprised when you see what that looks like. :)  It's not one of those "magazine kitchens" that are massive, shiny, and have Top of the Line everything. While I wouldn't mind having a magazine kitchen, I loved the homey, rustic, detailed features of this kitchen. It's small, and not without some awkward-ness (The dishwasher is on the other side of that island. I don't think you could pick a more inconvenient place for it!) Nevertheless, I am hoping to use it as an inspiration for my own kitchen. What do you think?

 I love how bright and sunny it is. I love the colorful plates displayed on the wall, the white cabinets, and the wooden cabinets with the glass panels. It's just adorable.

Friday, January 20, 2012


I am so excited for this new blog! I had (well I guess still have), one on Weebly but the format just doesn't fit all my needs. Thus I decided to split that monstrosity of a blog into 2 more manageable ones: one about my personal life (the ups & the downs and the day to day), and one to be a creative outlet for anything and everything that pops into my head. Hopefully from the title of this blog, you can figure out which one it is. I'm sure you are a smart person!

The title of my blog is pretty self explanatory, but I'm going to quickly touch on the meaning behind it for me anyway.

                    "Inspiration"- the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially creative, the art of drawing in, an inspiring agent or influence.

                     "Outlet"- a place or opening through which something is let out, a means of release or satisfaction for an emotion or impulse, a medium or expression or publication, a receptacle for the plug of an electrical device.

Wow! The definitions really say it all, don't they? Okay, maybe the last outlet definition is a little off the wall (haha, get it?), but since this blog will probably involve a lot of DIY house projects and inspiration,  an electrical outlet is appropriate and mildly amusing (to me at least!) But in all seriousness, I hope that I am inspired by this blog to do more and be more and accomplish more. I hope that this medium draws in an audience. Although even if I am the only one to ever read this, I hope it becomes a true outlet for me and gives me a sense of satisfaction.